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September 28, 2011

Florida poised to get back to the business of lethal injections

As detailed in this Reuters article, which is headlined "Florida set to execute man for 1978 police killing," the Sunshine State appears close to resume executions after a significant hiatus prompted by lethal injection challenges. Here are the details:

A man convicted of killing a Coral Gables police officer in 1978 is scheduled to die on Wednesday, the first inmate in Florida to be executed since the state changed its lethal injection procedure.

Barring a last-minute reprieve, Manuel Valle, 61, will be administered a lethal series of drugs at 4 p.m. local time at Florida State Prison near Starke. He will be the first inmate executed in the state since Republican Governor Rick Scott took office in January.

Attorneys for Valle have filed a number of unsuccessful appeals, many of them arguing that the state's mode of execution is unconstitutionally cruel.  Earlier this year, Florida prison officials substituted one of the drugs used in the three-drug protocol after its Dutch manufacturer stopped making the product to protest its use in executions.

In August, the Florida Supreme Court unanimously rejected arguments by Valle's attorneys that the substitution of pentobarbital into the procedure would not render their client unconscious, thus subjecting him to undue pain and suffering when the next two drugs were administered.  In an opinion that cleared the way for future executions using pentobarbital, the court said it found no credible evidence that administering the drug at 10 times the normal sedation dosage would not render Valle unconscious....

Valle was sentenced to death in 1981 for the murder of Coral Gables Officer Louis Pena, gunned down after stopping Valle's car.  Valle was originally scheduled to die August 2, but the execution was postponed to allow for a hearing on his concerns about the new drug. Valle would be the 70th inmate executed in Florida since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976 and the first since February 2010.

I suspect 33 years from the time of the crime until a state executed an execution has to be something close to a record.  Because many states had to keep revamping their death penalty statutes in response to Supreme Court rulings in the 1970s, I would guess there are now precious few folks still on death row who committed their crime in the 1970s and even fewer likely to ever really face execution.  

I cannot recall another recent execution resulting from a crime committed when disco was popular.  Can anyone confirm or refute my instinct that Florida is about to make history if it now finally gets around to executing someone who has been on its death row for three full decades?

September 28, 2011 at 10:48 AM | Permalink


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The execution of Roy Blankenship in Georgia was for a 1978 murder. Valle's first two death sentences were vacated and sent back for resentencing. SCOTUS denied cert in March 2004 from the 11th Circuit. Why it took 7 years for a Florida Governor to sign a warrant is a question for another day.

Posted by: DaveP | Sep 28, 2011 11:59:21 AM

The case from 2004 at SCOTUS was from the FSC. The federal appeal from the 11th Circuit was denied by SCOTUS in October 2007. So the case was in limbo for almost 4 years before a warrant was signed.

Posted by: DaveP | Sep 28, 2011 12:23:19 PM

There was a Texas execution for a 30 year old murder of a cop either last year or in 2009.

Let's hope this execution prompts the signing of 10-15 more warrants.

Posted by: federalist | Sep 28, 2011 12:31:26 PM

I doubt it, this governor and the one before him had little interest in setting execution dates more than a couple of times a year. Matters this important should really be in the hands of the state's various courts and not an executive official.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Sep 28, 2011 12:34:30 PM


agreed. Crist was running for US Senate and didn't want the media backlash that Rick Perry is getting now. He let the backlog grow to what it is now. He performed his own proportionality review on the warrants he wanted to sign. Obviously, the killing of a police office didn't meet his criteria.

I have suggested in person to legislators, Jeb Bush, and Bill McCollum to take it out of the executive branch. I guess it isn't that important to them. Nothing has ever been proposed at the Legislature or have I heard anyone else discuss it.

Posted by: DaveP | Sep 28, 2011 12:43:37 PM

A great piece by Jonah Goldberg on the death penalty.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Sep 28, 2011 2:10:02 PM

Great piece on understanding KSPS (Kent Scheidegger Personality Syndrome):


Posted by: Anonomonopoeia | Sep 28, 2011 3:04:16 PM

Thomas Whisenhant was executed in Alabama on May 27, 2010 for a 1976 murder. He was initially convicted in 1977. After that conviction was reversed, he was convicted and sentenced to death a second time. That sentence was vacated and, in 1987, he received the death sentence that eventually led to his execution.

Posted by: Arthur H | Sep 28, 2011 3:25:27 PM


Nice pic on the CJLF website. (www.cjlf.org/about/bioKSS.htm) You really do look like a Nazi. How anybody could actually want to present himself to the public with such an image is pretty revealing - and disturbing

Bill Otis - with all his nationalist ferver - would fit quite naturally right there at your side. Got a pic, Bill?

Hard to imagine what it would be like if people like you two actually had real political power... and all the glorious unconstrained punishment you would be able to engage in.

Posted by: Revolted | Sep 28, 2011 3:31:31 PM


That is indeed Nazism personified.


Posted by: anon | Sep 28, 2011 3:35:37 PM

I've often wondered about reincarnation. Not any more.



Posted by: Brian L. | Sep 28, 2011 4:36:47 PM

Was that a lemon you had for lunch, Kent?

Posted by: Emily | Sep 28, 2011 4:38:44 PM

juvenile remarks making fun of someone's appearance have absolutely no place in a serious discussion.

Posted by: virginia | Sep 28, 2011 5:25:36 PM

@ Virginia: you're correct. The problem is that they evidently don't have anything intelligent or substantive to contribute, so instead they (anonymously) comment about how someone looks in a photograph and have hijacked what otherwise might be "a serious discussion." They should apologize, although I bet they won't.

Posted by: guest | Sep 28, 2011 5:51:12 PM

I personally take offense to the comments about Kent. Just because some bloggers don't agree with him doesn't entitle them to call him names. I have often asked Kent to clarify legal issues that some of us on this blog don't understand and he has always responded.

Valle got executed. Usual dissent by Breyer on length of time on death row.

Posted by: DaveP | Sep 28, 2011 7:47:24 PM

"juvenile remarks making fun of someone's appearance have absolutely no place in a serious discussion."

I'll second that.

Posted by: The Death Penalty Sucks. | Sep 28, 2011 8:09:19 PM

"Nice pic on the CJLF website. (www.cjlf.org/about/bioKSS.htm) You really do look like a Nazi."

Exactly how is it that he looks like a Nazi? He looks like a normal guy in a suit.

Posted by: The Death Penalty Sucks. | Sep 28, 2011 8:15:43 PM

Thanks to virginia, guest, DaveP and TDPS for the reminder that commenting on a person's appearance is just flat-out low.

Not that there's anything wrong with Kent's appearance. As TDPS aptly put it, "He looks like a normal guy in a suit."

To Revolted, anon, Brian L. and Emily: Grow up and get what might be mistaken for manners.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 28, 2011 9:59:09 PM

Whilst it is true that in many states, though not all (Ohio now appears to be an exception), the clemency process is meaningless (as in Texas), the lack of even a pretense at one brings the dp process to a further low.

"Valle is not entitled to clemency because that process is up to the discretion of the state’s executive branch — that is, the governor’s office. “Valle thus has no right to clemency that he may enforce” through his appeal, the court ruled.

As the daughter of the victim stated after Valle's execution, it was not about achieving justice, but about revenge. After 33 years in a Florida jail, it could be about nothing else. And then denied a meaningful clemency appeal?

Posted by: peter | Sep 29, 2011 3:30:46 AM

The potshots about Kent's appearance were lame but it's hard to take seriously to hear some here sanctimoniously talk about polite discourse.

Posted by: Joe | Sep 29, 2011 11:05:52 AM

Joe --

Not that you'd have much to say in favor of "polite discourse" (your phrase) no matter what the source.

And if it's sanctimony you're looking for, you won't have to look far. About an inch up the page from your post would do.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 29, 2011 11:28:58 AM

You shouldn't criticise Kent's appearance - his views on criminal justice are hilarious enough without needing to resort to petty name-calling.

Posted by: John Smith | Sep 30, 2011 3:38:57 PM

John Smith --

If his views are "hilarious," maybe you could pick out one or two and make an actual argument against them, rather than just do a drive-by.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 30, 2011 6:32:34 PM

Wow, all of the keyboard gangsters and their apologists should be really proud of this thread.

I used to act like that too, back when I was 8. A good crack by my dad stopped that though.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Oct 1, 2011 11:39:30 AM

TarlsQtr --

My bet is that you were better behaved at 8.

Of the dozen or so liberals who regularly post here, exactly two, virginia and TDPS, condemn this stuff. That's a lesson.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 2, 2011 2:21:56 PM

hmm i'm coming into this one late. never bothered to look before sorry i live in florida and just couldn't get worked up about an execution about 40 years LATE!

especialy over the type of poison they are gonna get. We could always go back to hanging or the blade...if poison is too cruel!

as or the cracks about kent! Well all i can say is damn kent you look good in that suit!

think the only thing i found bad on the site was this!

"Legal arguments authored by Mr. Scheidegger have been cited in the Congressional Record and incorporated in several precedent-setting United States Supreme Court decisions"

Better be careful or you might get a bad name becasue of the company your keeping if you keep hanging around that bunch of crooks in congress! and the little traitors at the supreme court!

Posted by: rodsmith | Oct 3, 2011 12:29:05 AM

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